“Quieres Blow?”

December 30, 2010

I’ve been in Playa del Carmen 3 days and so far I’ve been asked twice, on the street, by the same guy, if I wanted any cocaine.  Um, no thanks, I’m good.

The three days have been wonderful.  I’ve been able to take a much-needed break from the mountains of stress caused by being unemployed in Los Angeles (sarcasm) and this is a nice change of pace from the snow and cold of Michigan (not sarcasm).  All I keep hearing and reading about is how there’s rain, rain, rain, rain in Los Angeles, so it sounds like I’m not missing tons, except the friends and family I have there.

My eating in Mexico has been pretty good.  I’m proud of myself.  It hasn’t been easy, especially since I’m dependent on restaurants for pretty much all my food.  But we’ve bought apples and bananas to keep in our hotel room, and our hotel has a continental breakfast (included with our room rate) that has fresh fruit, so I’ve taken advantage of that every morning.  At the restaurants, I’ve been pretty good at scoping out the healthier options, and balanced them with trying things I want to try.  I haven’t been carrying my phone with me, as I don’t get service here, so I haven’t taken photos of most of the food, but last night I brought my camera along to the restaurant we went to, so I snapped photos of everything I ate.  It turned out to be the best meal we’ve had so far.

Here’s the restaurant.  According to their website, it’s pronounced “Jag-Shey,” although I’m pretty sure the locals were pronouncing it more like “Yock-Shey”:

It was a Mayan restaurant, and the menu had icons noting the items that didn’t stray from the traditional old Mayan recipes.  I thought “when in Rome,” and ordered a couple of those.  But before they arrived, I tried a few other things.

The first thing out was a roll, with three dipping sauces – the black was the hottest:

I tried all three individually, but kinda liked it best when all three were mixed together.  It seemed like the green and black ones were salsa-esque, and the white one was sour cream-ish.

My sisters ordered a couple appetizer combo platters to share, and so I tried 5 bites of 5 different appetizers.  I have no idea what any of them are, but they were delicious:

The one at 5 o’clock was similar to a quesadilla, and the one at 3 o’clock was a pork-stuffed pepper that was terrific.  There are marinated onions on top.

For a starter (or, my next starter, I should say), I ordered Shecc (pronounced, I presume, “Sheck”):  It was pieces of pineapple, mango, jicama, and cucumber, marinated in lemon juice, paprika, and salt:

It was light and tasty – the salt and paprika added flavor but wasn’t overbearing.  The menu noted that this dish was “very refreshing!” and I have to agree.

For my main course, I ordered Tikin Xic (pronounced, um, I’ll get back to you on that).  It was fish marinated in sour orange and axiote, wrapped with onions in banana leaves, and grilled.  When it arrived, it was still bundled up in the banana leaves:

And here it is unbundled:

I just looked up what axiote is, and it’s a spice blend, in paste form, that’s very popular in the region, that’s built around annato seeds, which come from a local flowering shrub.  There was also a small piece of corn on the cob, and about a half-cup of rice served in a boat fashioned from a corn husk.  When the plate was set down in front of me, I thought the stuff at 4 o’clock was fruit, but it was actually steamed (or roasted?) vegetables – mostly zucchini, carrots, and onions.  All of it was tasty.  It was delicate, and the fish was flaky and perfectly cooked (I don’t know what kind of fish it was), and I ate all of it.

There was 8 of us at the table, and some of the others ordered desserts.  I tried a bite of their pumpkin ice cream, which was good and tasted like pumpkin, but wasn’t spectacular.

OH!  I promised you gym pictures in my last post!  I have two to share.  Here’s the gym from the street:

It’s called “The Gym” and it’s about 5 or 6 blocks from our hotel.  Here’s their website.  They offer lots of classes (none of which I’ve taken so far), have a nice assortment of cardio machines, and a lot of weight training equipment, which I also haven’t used yet (mostly because I’m trying not to aggravate my healing shoulder).  Here’s the main room – cardio in the back of the photo, weight stuff towards the front:

It’s a gym, as you can plainly see.  It’s been nice to start my days here with a great workout.  Yesterday, I did 55 minutes on the bike, and today, 45 minutes on the Arc Trainer elliptical.

Keep it up, David!

PS – If I don’t blog again in the next two days (and I don’t know yet if I will or not) – than Happy New Year, and I wish you health and happiness in the new year!  KEEP IT UP!

Massage in Mexico

December 28, 2010

Bienvenido a México!

Yesterday I arrived in Playa Del Carmen, México.  Today is my sister’s birthday (Feliz Cumpleaños, Laura!), and she invited family and friends – 9 of us in total, I think – south of the border to celebrate.  It’s a fantastic idea, because with a birthday three days after Christmas (Navidad), she kinda gets the birthday shaft every year – Christmas/birthday combination presents, friends out of town because they’re with family, that sort of stuff.   This year we’re all together, and we’re together to be with her.  We’ve been here 1 day, and so far, so good!

It’s beautiful (hermosa) down here.  Here’s the view from our hotel room:

It wasn’t a great beach day, because it was cloudy (nublado) and a little chilly, but I love the beach here because there’s a little cliff between the sandy part where people lounge and the water’s edge.  I walked along it at high tide:

Besides being my sister’s birthday, today was also notable because I got my first ever massage.  There’s no good reason why I’ve never gotten a massage before – I just haven’t.  But I’ve been wanting to get one for the better part of this year (año), after hearing multiple friends rave about them, and you can’t throw a stone (piedra) here without hitting a massage parlor – or a sunglass store, or a T-shirt shop selling really hilarious t-shirts that say things like “I Heart To Fart” – classy!  So, earlier today, Sarah, my other sister, and I scouted out a couple massage parlors and picked the one that looked the nicest to us.  They offered 2 massages for $50 USD, which we bought.  We then explained that we weren’t a couple, because we wanted to be “separado.”

The massage parlor was tucked away a cute courtyard lined with shops, and we were led through a building into a second, lush, private courtyard with individual massage rooms with curtain walls and canopy roofs.  It was very peaceful and quiet.  The massage itself was really relaxing.  I was kinda thinking before it started that I wouldn’t be able to fully relax because I’m ticklish (cosquilloso), and I tense up when I get tickled.  Yes, I know the masseuse wasn’t going to tickle me intentionally, but the feeling might be similar, especially to a first-timer.  And that did happen a little bit, twice – when she was working on my neck and when she was working on my knees (mis rodillas).  I haven’t experienced other massages, so I don’t have a point of comparison, but she seemed thorough and it felt good.

Oh – another noteworthy part of the day:  A bunch of us joined a gym that’s only a few blocks from the hotel.  I bought a 5-day pass (the total number of days I’m here) for $30 USD.  It’s a nice gym, appropriately named The Gym At Playa.  I’m going back tomorrow, so I’ll take a few photos (fotografías) for the blog.  Don’t know if or when I’ll blog again from Mexico, but at some point I’ll post them!

And my workout today was 50 minutes on the Arc Trainer – I burned over 800 calories!

Keep it up, David!

Day After Christmas

December 26, 2010

It’s been 5 days since I’ve last blogged… my apologies to anyone that stopped by hoping for something new!  It’s been a fantastic 5 days – lots of family and lots of fun, and Christmas as well!

I haven’t worked out this week as much as I would have liked.  I decided to make the 22nd a rest day, because my shoulder was acting up.  I have recurring pain in my shoulder – little flare-ups about once a month that stem from a rotator cuff tear earlier this year.  When I first started experiencing the flare-ups, I mistakenly thought I could push through the pain and work out like any other day, but nope, I can’t.  It only makes it worse.  On the 22nd, the pain was tolerable, and I knew I had to rest it instead of worsening it.

On the 23rd, I just didn’t make it to the gym.  My brother was in town, and we were sharing a car, and it just didn’t happen.  On the 24th, my shoulder was feeling great, and my sister came along with me to the gym, and together, we did 45 minutes on the crossramp elliptical and then some sit-ups.  I didn’t exercise on Christmas day – the gym was closed, and plus, it was a busy, family-filled day.   Earlier today my sister and I went back to the gym, and I did a more varied workout:  I ran a mile on the track to warm up, then did 23 minutes on the crossramp, followed by 35 minutes on the bike.

My eating during the week has been pretty good, with the exception of Christmas day.  The other days, I was mindful of proportions, and while I indulged in seasonal treats, I didn’t go overboard.  On Christmas day, I was grazing and munching all day long, and on lots of stuff I normally wouldn’t eat (or, at least, wouldn’t eat nearly as much of):  Cookies.  Nuts.  Fudge.  Baklava.  I got back on the wagon today.

I haven’t done a weigh-in since the 19th (1 week ago).  I know I’m up a couple pounds, and I’m okay with that – I just don’t need to know the specifics.  Tomorrow I’m off to Mexico – My sister’s birthday is in a couple days, and she planned a birthday trip for family and friends.  So I’m gonna wait until I get back to LA after the new year before I weigh myself again.  My goal is to stay even.  Oh – and I may or may not blog from Mexico… we shall see!

Now on to a few photos.   My sister brought to Michigan a shirt I had accidentally left at her place in Chicago the last time I visited her there, over the summer.  It’s a 4XL – the size I was wearing at my heaviest (and was still wearing when I visited her, as I had yet to do much shopping for smaller clothes, despite having lost around 85 pounds at that point).  It’s heading straight to Goodwill, but I thought I’d take a photo wearing it before sending it off:

Very tent-like – I love that!  I’m wearing XL shirts now, and earlier this month even bought a size Large hoodie!

I was given a new (and badly needed) wallet as a Christmas present, and tonight, I transferred everything from the old wallet into the new one:

I was able to toss a bunch of stuff during that process.  Most of it was old receipts and notes to myself, but there were also 2 things of note that I no longer need:

On the right is my Casual Male XL Rewards card.  Basically, I got a $15 gift certificate for every $200 or $300 I spent in the store (I forget which it is).   For the past 5 or 6 years, I was getting an average of 2 of those certificates a year.  But no more.  I no longer have to shop at a big and tall store, so my rewards card has a new home: in the trash can.  You can read about my final visit to Casual Male XL here – it’s one of my favorite blog posts!

On the top is my card for the local Bally Total Fitness gym that I joined when I arrived in Michigan on the 9th.  it was a great decision to join that gym – I went to it 13 times in 17 days, and since I only paid $20 for it, it divides out to only $1.54 a visit!  Those visits include taking 2 different classes (Step and Powerflex) and doing 6 swimming workouts, during which I swam a combined total of 12,250 yards.  That’s 490 total lengths of the pool, and 6.96 miles!

Keep it up, David!

Hot Tub Chat

December 21, 2010

I made it to the gym at 10:25am this morning, and was bummed to see the water aerobics class using the pool.  I didn’t bring any clothes to work out in, only my swimsuit.  Luckily, the water aerobics class was over at 10:30, and the pool emptied out.  I got in a great swimming workout:

  • 1000 yards warm-up (200 free, 200 IM, 200 kick, 200 pull, 200 IM)
  • 2 x 100 yards free at 80%, followed by 1 x 50 yard all-out sprint (250 yards total, and I did this 5x total, for a total of 1250 yards)
  • 250 yard cool-down (50 free, 200 IM)
  • TOTAL YARDS: 2500 yardsmy longest workout in this pool yet!


I forgot to notice what time I started or finished, so I don’t know how long I was in the pool, but my guess was close to an hour.

Then I got out of the pool, walked 4 feet, and got into the hot tub, as I’ve done as the end of most of my swimming workouts.  As I was getting into the hot tub, this guy – let’s call him Bert, because I didn’t learn his name and he looked like a Bert – says to me: “You look like you’ve lost a lot of weight.”

Well, isn’t Bert observant!  Me:  “Yep!”

Bert:  “How much have you lost?”

Me:  “I’m up to 155 pounds.  And counting.”

Bert:  “Did you have surgery?”

Me:  “Nope!”

Bert:  “I thought so.  I was looking for a scar when you getting in, and I didn’t see one.”

Bert went on to talk about how he’s scheduled for beriatric surgery in April.  “I can’t lose the weight any other way,” he says, “I just can’t do it.  I like watching TV.  I like eating.”   Bert asked me a few more questions about what I was doing, and I answered him, and in the course of talking with him, he revealed that his doctor had started him on a pre-surgery diet.  In 2 months, he had lost over 30 pounds, and then he said he fallen off the wagon a little bit.

I’m not going to judge anyone else’s decisions, but I will say that beriatric surgery scares me.  Ultimately, it’s good that Bert is taking the measures he needs to improve his health – he said he’s fighting diabetes and high blood pressure, among other things.  But losing 30 pounds in 2 months is nothing to sneeze at – it’s over 3 pounds a week!  I said it to Bert at the time, but I really want to put it out there again:  Keep on doing whatever it is you’re doing!  Keep it up, Bert!

I swung by the store after the gym and right in the middle of the produce section was a candy display.  You know, because when you’re shopping for pears and celery and bell peppers, you’d probably want gummi sharks and chocolate-covered pretzels nearby.  Memo to Kroger:  Keep your candy in the candy aisle!  I would have just walked by, except something caught my eye:

Candy corn and peanuts? I’ve never seen these two things mixed before.  Have you?  I can’t imagine it’d be terrible (I like both ingredients independently), but isn’t the texture strange?  Crunchy nuts and soft candy corn?  I just don’t get it.  Someone please explain it to me.  In the comments section.

Keep it up, David!

12/19 Weigh-In

December 20, 2010

Those of you with good calendar sense have already figured out that today is no longer December 19th.  I’ve been busy the past day, and it’s taken me this long to share my good news:  Yesterday, I weighed myself on the scale at the gym (which previously had been the deliverer of very good news), and…

I’m down 2 more pounds! I now weigh 247 pounds, and have lost a total of 155.  If only I wasn’t 2,300 miles away, I’d update my chart (last seen here).  Alas, it will have to wait until I’m back in California.

I credit those 2 pounds to a fantastic week of exercise.  Finding and joining a gym for the two weeks I’m in Michigan was an excellent decision, and I love that I’ve been able to add swimming to my exercise rotation – it’s been a nice change, and that change has been invigorating!  I’ve also been working hard to stay on track with my eating, and I’ve enjoyed some indulgences because I planned for them, without ever falling completely off the wagon.

Yesterday, I had dinner with a longtime friend Molly, and her hubby Dan.  Molly made a delicious dinner – a pinto bean and corn salad:

Molly heated on the stove a can of pinto beans, a can of corn, and about 1/2 cup of salsa.  When it was heated through, she added scallions and diced tomatoes (diced by yours truly).  Then she served a couple scoops of the mixture over a bed of romaine (cut up and salad-spinned by yours truly) and added a few tablespoons of shredded pepper jack cheese and about 1/4 of an avocado.  Dan (his plate is upper right) added some tortilla chips to his, too.

If this recipe seems familiar, it’s because it is.  Molly left the recipe as a comment to a post on this very blog in October!  Here’s the post – scroll down to the comments section and see for yourself.  And check out her second salad recipe, in the same comment!

It’s been a good two days of exercise.  Saturday was a rest day, but on Sunday morning I was back at the gym, where I hopped in the pool.  Here’s what I did:

  • 800 warm-up (200 free, 200 IM, 200 kick, 200 pull)
  • Ladder (all free):  100, 200, 300, 400  – I intended to go back down the ladder to 100, but I was bored and tired, so I abandoned the ladder and moved on to:
  • 100 free – all-out sprint
  • 200 cool down
  • TOTAL YARDS: 2100 yards.

Then, today, I was back at the gym, where I did:

  • 1 mile jog warm-up around the track
  • 20 minutes toning with free weights
  • 30 minutes on the CrossRamp elliptical
  • 10 minutes ab work
  • 10 minutes of stretching at beginning and end


Keep it up, David!

Torture Device or Symbol of Success?

December 19, 2010

Last month, I was Skyping with my uncle and grandmother, and during our chat, my uncle wandered away and came back with this, which he had found in my grandmother’s garage.  Any idea what it is?

My first thought was that it could be one of the Dentist’s tools in “Little Shop of Horrors.”  But it’s actual use is to….

…punch holes in belts!

Knowing that my grandma had such a device, I brought a belt that is too big for me on my trip to Michigan so I could test this sucker out.

Here’s the belt:

It’s either a size 48″ or a size 50″ (I can’t remember), and I got it in July.  Now I’m down to a size 40″ around my waist – a full 18″ smaller than when I was at my heaviest, and my waist measured 58″!

Anyway – the belt would need more holes if I were ever to wear it again, so I got to work punching those holes out.  First step: figuring out how big to make the holes.  The tool can punch holes in 6 different diameters, so I found the one that fits my belt:

Then I lined up the punch with where I wanted to hole to go:

Then I squeezed.  And squeezed.  And squeezed.  Turns out you need a lot of pressure to punch a hole through leather!  Finally I felt it give way, and voila!  I had a new hole!

I was so excited that I immediately started again and punched a second new hole.  Then a third, then a fourth.  Ultimately, I punched 7 new holes:

In the background are the bits that I punched out.

Now I can wear the belt again!  It sure feels good to have outgrown my clothing – although outgrown is the wrong word… outshrunk my clothes? Thinned out of my clothes?  Whatever the word it…

…Keep it up, David!

Salad For 12

December 18, 2010

Get ready, salad fans – it’s my biggest salad yet!

My parents had 10 people over for dinner tonight, and my mom asked me to help prepare dinner.  Being the healthy eater that I am, I took on the salad, executing an idea that my mom picked out.

Here’s what I served:

It’s a roasted pear, walnut, and arugula salad!

I basically followed this Food Network recipe, although I cut a few corners and changed a few things.  First I cut 4 d’anjou pears (2 green, 2 red) in half and used a melon baller to scoop out the core.  I brushed the cut side with honey, and popped them in the oven at 375 degrees for 20 minutes (I roasted them earlier in the day, and let them cool completely before slicing them).  My mom really likes green leaf lettuce, so I added that to some arugula for the greens.  The recipe includes instructions on how to make your own dressing, but I just used bottled balsamic vinaigrette.  I also added one red pepper, sliced, for some color, and some shaved parmesan.  I did toast some walnuts, as the recipe says, and threw those in too.  Toasting nuts, by the way, is simple pimple: toss the nuts in a skillet – no need for oil or butter or Pam – and put them over low heat.  It only takes a few minutes, and they’re done when you start smelling them.  Their flavor is enhanced – it’s totally worth it.

I got a lot of compliments, and the biggest compliment was that at the end of the meal, most of it was gone:

I tried some of it too (making it a salad for 13, I suppose), and it was tasty!  I thought I over-dressed it, although since I’ve cut way back on dressing since I started dieting, I’m sure my definition of too-much-dressing is much lower than most people’s.

Now my parents and their friends are spread between three tables in three different rooms, playing bridge.  Since my mom spread bowls of nuts, M&Ms, and other chocolates across all three tables, I’m hanging out upstairs, avoiding the temptation.

Keep it up, David!